Wednesday 11 November 2009

Cycling's War Dead

At a time when we remember those killed at war I have been thinking about cyclists who perished. Browsing through a French history cycling site special mention is made to those cyclists lost during the first world war. It seems that cyclists paid very heavily with their lives during that time.

Among the French cyclists mentioned were former Tour de France winners, Octave Lapize (plane shot down, 1917), Francois Faber (shot, 1915) and Lucien Petit-Breton (killed in a motor car accident, 1917). The latter's brother, Anselme Mazan was also killed during the war, in 1915.

Other high profile cyclists of the day who were lost were the 1913 winner of the Giro d'Italia, Carlo Oriani (died from pneumonia), the 1896 Olympic track champion Leon Flameng (killed in a plane crash, 1917) and the English track star Tom Gascoyne.

As well as the elite cyclists there were hundreds of amateur cyclists killed during the Great War.

At Meriden in the West Midlands stands the National Cyclists Memorial, a monument which specifically commemorates cyclists lost during the First and Second world wars.

Lest we forget.

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